Ariel Sharon, former Israeli Prime Minister died Saturday after eight years in a coma, Israeli Army Radio reported. Sharon was 85. Sharon died at Sheba Medical Center in the Tel Aviv suburb of Tel Hashomer.
Sharon suffered a mild stroke in December 2005 and was released from the hospital after two days. A little more than two weeks later he suffered a massive intra cerebral hemorrhage from which he never recovered. Sharon was born February 26, 1928 in the then British Mandate of Palestine to a family of Lithuanian Jews. By the age of 10 he had entered the Zionist youth movement Hassadeh and later the Haganah, the military precursor to the Israel Defense Forces.
The Israeli statesman was a national war hero to many Israelis for his leadership, both in uniform or as a civilian, during every Israeli war.
Many in the Arab world called Sharon “the Butcher of Beirut” after he oversaw Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon while serving as defense minister. He was the man who encouraged Israelis to establish settlements on occupied Palestinian land, but he also was the leader who pushed for Israel’s historic 2005 withdrawal from 25 settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, which was turned over to Palestinian rule for the first time in 38 years.
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